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Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way


Proposals are expected to deliver at least two (residential and non-residential, new and/or retrofitted) large-scale, real-life demonstrations of promising technology, process and social innovations, in different regions of Europe. The demonstrations should address the following aspects:

  • Scalable design of green, positive energy neighbourhoods well embedded in the spatial, economic, technical, environmental, regulatory and social context of the demonstration sites.
  • Energy and resource efficient, seamless industrial construction/renovation workflows from design to eventual offsite manufacturing, installation and post-construction monitoring:
    • With recycling/reuse of construction materials (or industrial by-products) or reduction of the amount of materials and components used, in order to reduce the embodied energy of buildings;
    • Demonstrating high replicability, reduced maintenance costs and long-term performance, as well as socio-environmental performance (e.g. air quality/natural ventilation, natural lighting, etc.) and potential for adaptation, reuse or deconstruction in the future;
    • Ensuring that proposed solutions do not influence negatively the fire and seismic safety of the buildings;
    • Minimizing disruption for building’s occupants and the time spent on site;
    • Delivering post-construction/renovation monitoring of both operational energy performance (minimizing design-built performance gap) and durability of the construction/renovation components.
  • Sustainable and highly energy-efficient building designs adapted to local environments and climatic conditions, including active-passive solutions, with:
    • Digital and EGNSS[[European Global Navigation Satellite System. See]] based methods of design and construction, smart monitoring and tracking of building and renovation processes (e.g. Building Information Modelling, digital twins and augmented reality, robotics, etc.);
    • Innovative and more energy efficient Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) converting the building envelope into electricity-producing surfaces, while satisfying building functions in addition to architectural and aesthetic considerations.
  • Sustainable, innovative zero-emission and more cost and energy efficient, renewable energy generation in the buildings combined with urban service facilities (e.g. charging facilities) and heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) solutions :
    • Renewable power generation and H&C systems (e.g. highly performant Photovoltaic solutions adapted to the conditions of use; BAPV where BIPV is not an option; micro-CHP);
    • HVAC solutions (e.g. reversible heat pumps with refrigerants that are not greenhouse gases, or less developed clean heating options such as hydrogen).
  • Energy storage systems (e.g. using second life batteries from electric vehicles) with bidirectional charging functionalities, that do not limit the use of living space (e.g. neighbourhood optimized storage including management systems for optimal integration, flexibility and interoperability with the grid).
  • Highly energy-efficient building operation at reduced maintenance costs and long-term performance with the help of digital technologies to optimise energy generation, consumption, storage and flexibility at neighbourhood scale, as well as digital solutions to increase the usability, energy efficiency and secure operation of building systems and appliances, ensuring optimal comfort for users and a healthier living environment:
    • Optimal dynamic matching of on-site renewable energy generation and building/neighbourhood consumption; integrated demand-response, considering also non-energy benefits (e.g. occupant security; indoor/outdoor air quality, etc.);
    • Smart home services, advanced automated controls, i.e. smart meters, smart water control, smart EV charging, smart elevators, smart security etc.; based on inclusive design, understanding the occupants preferred usage of the building and harmonising the building - occupants interaction;
    • Integration between building energy management systems/building automation control systems, renewable electricity/energy generation, storage, urban service facilities and the grid;
    • Potential for local flexibility to be aggregated and bundled; possibility to trade and commoditise energy flexibility creating new services and revenue streams for building owners/tenants;
  • Citizen awareness raising activities linked to green neighbourhood “living labs” (led by “green schools” where relevant), to facilitate social innovation, promote education and training for sustainability, conducive to competences and positive behaviour/good habits for a resource efficient and environmentally respectful energy use.
  • Coordination on standards and regulatory aspects to ensure operational efficiency of buildings and HVAC technologies also addressing the design-built performance gap.

The objective of the demonstrations is to test, in view of scaling up and wide replication, the proposed innovations across the whole value chain (from planning and design through manufacturing and construction to end use, including all relevant players, governance and financing institutions, planners, owners, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, tenants, social partners, etc.). The objective is also to adapt this value chain to new operation patterns resulting from the innovations (new business models and services, new usages, changed behaviour). Therefore, the validation of the market and consumer uptake potential should be carried out in the form of real life “living-labs” and under conditions that are open to innovation and promoting affordable access to housing. On this purpose, the project will set up (or use existing) innovation clusters in different regions of Europe, where relevant with a link to other initiatives (e.g. R&I partnerships). Such innovation clusters need to include the local/regional/national value chain(s), to demonstrate, evaluate and ultimately replicate the innovative solutions in different environment and market conditions, with due consideration of social, business and policy drivers. This will also ensure the validation of the innovations for different building types - residential (e.g. social housing) and non-residential (e.g. hospitals, schools, public buildings) - and various climatic zones.

Proposals are expected to bring the technologies from TRL 5/6 to TRL 7/8 at the end of the project.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 10 to 20 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

With rising focus on the building sector (e.g. the ‘renovation wave’ initiative of the European Green Deal) in view of the full decarbonisation by 2050, the built environment remains a strategic domain for R&I. The priority is the design and construction of new or retrofitting of existing buildings as zero-emission/zero-pollution[[For the service life of the buildings]], positive energy-houses in sustainable green neighbourhoods. There are two major components in this transition. Firstly, a transition in designing and constructing buildings to reduce their embodied emissions and to increase the energy efficiency of their operation; the same applies to retrofitting existing buildings to increase their efficiency. Secondly, a transition to energy positive buildings (producing electricity, covering their heating and cooling needs and contributing to the energy grid stability) with sustainable, renewable energy technologies. These two components are closely linked, since greater building efficiency can reduce demand for heating and cooling and allow a greater range of zero emission technologies to become viable. It also means, reducing demand through effective building designs, including those that are adapted to their local environments (bioclimatic architecture conditions) and use. Spreading such building concept allows the creation of green neighbourhood “living labs” (including social housing and non-residential buildings such as hospitals, schools, public buildings, commercial buildings, etc.) with additional urban functionalities (e.g. shared EV charging facilities).

Actors along the construction and renovation value chains are qualified and have integrated the innovative technologies in their business models and operations. Strong innovation clusters are able to accelerate the spread of green building and renovation concepts to provide momentum to the ‘renovation wave’ that will be politically underpinned.

When compared to the state of the art the innovative technical solutions further developed and demonstrated by n the projects are expected to bring the impacts listed below:

  • Primary energy savings triggered by the project (in GWh/year);
  • Investments in sustainable energy triggered by the project (in million Euro);
  • Demonstration sites that go beyond nearly-zero energy building performance;
  • High energy performance (nearly zero-energy level within the meaning of Directive 2010/31/EU for retrofitted / positive-energy level buildings for new constructions);
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions towards zero (in tCO2-eq/year) for the total life-cycle compared to current situation shown through cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessment;
  • Reduction of the embodied energy in buildings by 50 % without concessions with respect to energy consumption and comfort;
  • Reduction of air pollutants towards zero (in kg/year) for the total life-cycle compared to current situation shown through cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessment;
  • Demonstration of high potential for replicability using new or existing innovation clusters incorporating the whole value chain;
  • Shortened construction/retrofitting time and cost by at least 30%, in order to allow market uptake and social affordability;
  • Improved final indoor environment quality by at least 30% and reduction of dust and noise during retrofitting by at least 30%, leading to higher rate of users’ satisfaction, demonstrated according to the relevant CEN standard (or equivalent).

Relevant indicators and metrics, with baseline values, should be clearly stated in the proposal.